Blogs: All That Glitters / Designers / Retail

Buddha Mama’s Bergdorf’s Residency Is a Lesson in Visual Branding


Die-hard jewelry lovers never need an excuse to pop into New York’s Bergdorf Goodman, but if you get a chance to do so before April 25, make your way over to the Buddha Mama shop-in-shop. Literally tucked away in a corner on the first floor, it occupies a space the size of a walk-in closet. But what struck me when I had a chance to visit earlier this month is that despite its small size, every inch of it is bursting with branded energy.

Buddha Mama x Berfdorfs exterior
The Buddha Mama shop-in-shop at Bergdorf Goodman

With pieces made of 20k gold, precious stones, and enamel, the Buddha Mama collection is loosely inspired by Buddhism and reflects an aesthetic that mixes traditional Eastern signs and symbols of protection with a modern pop-art sensibility and ancient jewelry production techniques.

The branding elements have changed a few times over the life of the Miami-based brand, but floating clouds—make that “multicolor, bright, almost hyperpop–meets–Zen Buddha clouds,” according to founder Nancy Badia—have become a new icon of the brand. The motif features prominently in Buddha Mama’s Bergdorf’s shop, appearing in both its custom wallpaper and some of the jewelry vitrines (pictured at top).

Buddha Mama x Bergdorfs wallpaper
Since the cases were permanent fixtures, Buddha Mama and relied on the wallpaper to envelop and transform the space.

Badia and her daughter Dakota, who co-design the line, worked with their longtime sales and marketing consultant Elizabeth Bonanno of the EAB Project, Melanie Allegra, women’s visual presentation director at Bergdorf’s, and Eileen Beere, senior account director at production agency Arsenal New York, to encapsulate Buddha Mama’s visual identity in a setting that would leave shoppers enchanted, intrigued, and fully immersed in the brand’s spiritual-yet-luxurious world.

“We wanted to create a Buddha Mama living experience but really elevate the direction of the visual language, so we went a little less pop-art and a little more luxe, bringing in more elements of the cosmos and incorporating the signature Buddha clouds into custom wallpaper,” says Bonanno.

“The shop-in-shop presentation was a collaborative venture, with Bergdorf Goodman having final approval,” explains Bonanno. “Our overall theme was ‘celestial love,’ and the clouds concept seemed perfect. Arsenal created the wallpaper based on the artwork we found, and BG helped us establish a scale that would work best.”

Buddha Mama x Bergdorf cases
The wallpaper on the inside of the vitrines is a scaled-down version of the design seen on the walls, while the fabric on all the custom displays were color-matched to the wallpaper. 
Buddha Mama intentions
In the middle of the space, a pedestal stands atop a vintage rug and offers an “intention bowl” for visitors to place their written intentions and send into the universe. “This was about making the space interactive, but we also wanted to fill the space with good vibes,” says branding consultant Elizabeth Bonanno. Phases of the moon are projected onto the ceiling. 
Buddha Mama x Bergdorfs buddhas
In an adjacent corridor, the Buddha Mama brand brought in a tall case that holds two of Nancy Badia’s Buddhas from her personal collection. 

“Ultimately all final decisions, as they should be, were made by BG,” adds Bonanno. “Mel Allegra’s team was remarkable and pushed us to create something we didn’t know was possible.”

Buddha Mama’s relationship with Bergdorf’s goes back to 2017. “When they asked us to participate in the residency, we jumped at the opportunity,” says Badia. “Our BG team feels like family now. As a boutique brand, the opportunity to work with them was an honor.”

Given its deluxe appointments, the Bergdorf’s location was a significant investment for Buddha Mama, but the the ROI is already manifesting: “We are encouraged by the results thus far, and expect to end this residency with a bang,” says Bonanno.

Looking ahead, Buddha Mama fans can expect a continuation of the visual branding elements that transformed the space at Bergdorf’s to surface in everything from its trade-show salons to its digital platforms.

“There will be some differences from what you see currently at BG, possibly a bit funkier, but the celestial Buddha cloud vibe you get from the wall coverings will be what drives the concept,” says Badia. “Much of what the brand creates is intentional, but a lot happens in the space of freedom—freedom to allow ideas to flow, freedom to collaborate with the entire team. What we can say is that the new branding isn’t complete yet, but soon you’ll see it loud and proud.”

Top: From small studs to statement necklaces, Buddha Mama is known for attention to detail and craftsmanship in its jewelry. It is at once old and new: a nod to traditional cultures, with a wink toward contemporary rock-star style. Its shop-in-shop residency at Bergdorf Goodman began in February and will conclude at the end of April. (Photos courtesy of Buddha Mama)

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Amy Elliott

By: Amy Elliott

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